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Five-run fifth supports strong Watson start as Seminoles take Game 1 of championship series, 8-4

Oklahoma's Tiare Jennings, left, is tagged out at the plate by Florida State catcher Anna...
Oklahoma's Tiare Jennings, left, is tagged out at the plate by Florida State catcher Anna Shelnutt during the seventh inning of the first game of the NCAA Women's College World Series softball championship series Tuesday, June 8, 2021, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)(Sue Ogrocki | AP)
Updated: Jun. 8, 2021 at 10:35 PM EDT
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OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. (WCTV) - The Florida State Seminoles are one win away from the program’s second-ever Women’s College World Series title after defeating Oklahoma in Game 1 of the Championship Series, 8-4, Tuesday night in Oklahoma City.

Since Saturday’s three-run home run against Arizona by Dani Morgan in the bottom of the sixth inning, the Seminoles have outscored their opponents 26-12.

For the fourth straight game, the Seminoles opened the scoring, this time in the bottom of the third inning thanks to a two-run home run from the nine-spot hitter, Kalei Harding, plating herself and Anna Shelnutt, who opened the frame with a walk.

The Seminoles blew the game open in the next inning, scoring five runs against Sooner starter Nicole May (L, 15-2).

The rally began with a one-out infield single from Cassidy Davis and Josie Muffley followed with a walk to put two on for FSU.

After a Shelnutt strikeout for the second out of the inning, Harding came through again, roping a double into right field to plate Davis and Muffley and double the FSU lead to 4-0.

Kaley Mudge kept the line moving with an infield single to put runners at the corners, setting the table for Sydney Sherrill’s two-run single, giving the Seminoles a 6-0 lead.

Sherrill came in to score on an RBI hit to left field from Elizabeth Mason, making for a 7-0 game.

FSU sent 10 hitters to the plate in the top of the fourth, scoring five runs on six hits and knocking May out of the game.

Oklahoma responded in the bottom half of the inning, hitting back-to-back home runs with two out off the bats of Kenzie Hansen and Nicole Mendes to cut FSU’s lead to 7-2.

OU got another pair of runs in the bottom of the sixth, on a two-run single from Mackenzie Donihoo to score Jocelyn Alo and Mendes, who set the table with an infield single and a hit-by-pitch, respectively, to bring the Sooners within three at 7-4.

FSU logged an insurance run in the top of the seventh inning on a wild sequence off the bat of Kalei Harding.

Harding knocked a single - her third hit of the game - into left field but Josie Muffley rounded third too wide, and retreated to the bag. Shelnutt was over halfway to third and began retreating to second base, but she was tagged out trying to get back.

On the throw to second, Muffley broke from home and was tagged out at the plate on a collision with catcher Lynnsie Elam, but obstruction was called and a run was awarded to the Noles, making for an 8-4 lead.

The Sooners attempted to rally in the bottom of the seventh, getting a one-out single from Tiare Jennings to set the table for an Alo double into right-centerfield, but a fantastic relay throw from Kiersten Landers to Sherrill to Shelnutt cut Jennings out at the plate for the second out of the inning, keeping it a four-run ball game.

Kathryn Sandercock (S, 2) induced a pop-up to Sherrill at second base to end the game.

FSU got a gem of a start from Danielle Watson (W, 12-1) who scattered six hits over 5.2 innings, allowing four runs and striking out five. She did not issue a walk.

Sandercock spun the final 1.1 innings of work for the Noles, not allowing a run and allowing just two hits.

Three Seminoles logged multi-hit games: Kaley Mudge, who’s sixth-inning single tied her for WCWS history with number of hits in a single series (13), Cassidy Davis and Kalei Harding, who also finished the day with four RBI and two runs scored, going 3-for-4 at the plate overall.

Just one win stands between the Noles and their second-ever title. FSU and OU will do battle again Wednesday night, with a 7 p.m. first pitch.

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